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Posts Tagged ‘male Northern Cardinal’

Do male Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) know that they are bright red in color? When I spooked one of them yesterday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, he flew to a nearby field and perched in the midst of a mass of vegetation.

Did he think that he was hidden from me? Obviously he was not—his red coloration makes it almost impossible for him to blend in. I couldn’t help but think of a quotation that is attributed to Dr. Seuss, “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” That’s probably a good question for all of us—as you can probably guess, I am somewhat of a non-conformist.

 

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Last month I received a curious question from Cindy Dyer, my good friend and photography mentor—she asked me if I had any good winter images. In addition to being an amazing photographer, Cindy works as a graphic designer. The editor with whom she works on Hearing Life Magazine, the official magazine of the Hearing Loss Association of America, wanted a winter-related full-page original image for the January/February 2020 issue.

She knew that she did not have many snow images, but figured that I would. I gave her some options, and she chose this shot of a male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) that I photographed in my neighborhood after a snowstorm last January. The editor loved this image as cardinals hold special significance to her—her late sister loved them—and added the quotation from Vincent Van Gogh, one of my favorite artists.

I was curious about the context of the quotation and learned from vangoghletters.org that it was from a letter that Vincent Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo from London in January 1874. Here is the paragraph of that letter than contains the quotation, “Things are going well for me here, I have a wonderful home and it’s a great pleasure for me to observe London and the English way of life and the English themselves, and I also have nature and art and poetry, and if that isn’t enough, what is?” As I read the letter in its entirety, I was equally struck by Van Gogh’s commentary about nature and art, “Always continue walking a lot and loving nature, for that’s the real way to learn to understand art better and better. Painters understand nature and love it, and teach us to see.”

I am always thrilled to see one of my images in print and I was excited yesterday when I finally received a printed copy of the magazine. One of my goals this year is to have more of my photos printed—I have a few of my favorites hanging on the wall already, but still have room for more of them. If you are interested in seeing the original posting in which this image appeared, click on this link to Cardinal in the snow.

 

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It is normally hard for a male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) to camouflage itself, but it seemed to blend in pretty well with the brilliant red leaves of these sumac plants last week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Images of a bright red cardinal in the brilliant white snow—some might view such shots as a bit cliché, but I view them instead as iconic. I ventured out into my neighborhood earlier this week after the snow had stopped falling and was thrilled to find a small group of Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis). They spent most of their time buried in the branches, but eventually I was able to capture some unobstructed images of some male cardinals.

Although I like the details of the second shot, the first shot really draws me in by presenting a better depiction of the snowy environment. In some parts of the country this is a typical winter scene, but here in Northern Virginia, this is the biggest snow storm we have had since 2016, so it was pretty unusual to have this kind of photo opportunity.

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I love male Northern Cardinals in the winter. They add such a wonderful pop of bright color on a cloudy day, like yesterday when I took this shot, or on a snowy day like today (when I hope to see one in my neighborhood).

I spotted this Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) while exploring Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, my current favorite spot for walking about with my camera. We have already had about 6 inches (10 cm) of snow and more is falling, so I probably will not make it out of the neighborhood today. The streets are not yet clear and people in this area tend to drive even more crazily than normal when there is snow.

I took a number of shots of the cardinal while he was perched in a distant tree. Although he remained relatively stationary, he kept changing his tail position, so I decided to include shots with different “poses.”

Northern cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Sunshine and bright colors have been in short supply during the month of November. We have already broken the all-time record for rainfall in November in our area and will break the record for rainfall in a year if we have one more inch (25mm) of rain by 31 December.

I was therefore absolutely thrilled when I spotted this bright red male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) high in a tree at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge earlier this week. Unlike so many other birds that try to blend in with their surroundings, the cardinal seems bold and self-assured—it is not at all hard to spot them, though they often bury themselves in the middle of bushes, so getting an unobstructed shot can be quite a challenge.

Comparatively speaking, this cardinal was cooperative and posed for a short while before finally taking off. His head was in constant motion, but eventually I was able to capture an image with the head in a decent position. Even with human subjects, I find it tough to shoot a portrait in which the head and eyes are in a natural and pleasing pose.

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I never get tired of taking photos of ordinary birds, like this male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) that I spotted yesterday Initially the cardinal turned his head slight and peeked at me over his shoulder.  Eventually he ended up giving me a better view, though it did seem like he was either shy or coy.

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As this male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) stared at me Monday from within a bush, I couldn’t help but wonder if he thought he was camouflaged. It is hard to hide that bright red color.

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The berries looked dried up and unappetizing to me, but to the male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) that I spotted last Friday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, they provided much needed nourishment on a frigid winter day.

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It is always a joy to see the bright red color of a male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis), especially during the winter, when the world seems almost monochromatic. I spotted this one yesterday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge as he pecked about in the drifted snow. We have had only a small amount of snow, but the weather has remained steadfastly below freezing, so it has stayed with us for an extended period of time.

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The days have now gotten shorter—with today marking the Winter Solstice—and bright colors have largely disappeared from the natural landscape. It is therefore a special joy to see the bright red color of a male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) at this time of the year. Unlike many birds that molt into a dull plumage during the winter, male cardinals continue to shine brightly and offer welcome relief from the dullness of the landscape.

I spotted this handsome cardinal this past Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge as he turned to the early morning sun and basked briefly in its warmth and light.

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I love Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis). The bright red of the male cardinal helps to lift my spirits throughout the winter when the world seems almost monochromatic. In terms of beauty, though, the more subdued coloration of the female cardinal is arguably even more impressive.

This past weekend I encountered several cardinals as I was exploring the frosty fields of Huntley Meadows Park in the early morning hours. I was focused on some sparrows in a patch of vegetation when suddenly a female cardinal flew in. I quickly adjusted my focus—I was focusing manually at that moment—and tried to steady my breathing as I took the first shot below just before she flew away.

A little while later, I caught sight of some movement out of the corner of my eyes in a stand of cattails. The red of a male cardinal is pretty hard to camouflage, so it was easy to spot him, but I was a little surprised by his pose. Somehow it looked more like the pose of a blackbird than that of a cardinal. Even though I was pretty far away, the cardinal seemed to be intently staring at me and didn’t seem too happy about my presence.

Cardinals are common where I live, but I never grow tired of photographing such ordinary subjects, seeking to discover and share the extraordinary that can often be found in the ordinary.

Northern Cardinal

northern cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Like a runner at the starting blocks, this male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) was tensed as he prepared to push off from the top of a dead tree yesterday morning at Huntley Meadows Park.

What a beautiful way to start the spring.

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Early yesterday morning there was a coating of ice on much of the water at Huntley Meadows Park. Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) were taking advantage of this new surface to forage for seeds in the lower parts of the vegetation growing out of the frozen water.

The bright red one is immediately identifiable as a male. The other one looks like it could be a female or an adolescent male. As is often the case with birds, male cardinals start off looking like females before they acquire their adult plumage. I’m leaning towards it being a female because of the color of the bill—with younger cardinals, the bill is often dusky rather than bright orange.

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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A bright red male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) was buried in the bushes on Monday at Huntley Meadows Park. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get an unobstructed shot. I attempted to will the cardinal to move to a new spot and amazingly it flew to a perch on the upper railing of the observation deck and posed for me.

Maybe telepathy works!

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As winter days become increasingly drab and colorless, I particularly love seeing the bright colors of the male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis), like this one that I spotted high in a tree at Huntley Meadows Park this past weekend. Many birds blend in so well with their surroundings that they are difficult to spot—that is certainly not the case for the bold male cardinal. Throughout the winter the cardinal is with us, helping to keep our world from becoming completely monochromatic.

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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A Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) that I spotted on Saturday at Huntley Meadows Park seemed to be in an awkward feather phase that gave him an almost clown-like appearance.

I suspect that the cardinal feels as self-conscious as the average human male going through puberty.

Northern Cardinal

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday morning I had a portrait session with a male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) who wanted to update his presence on social media. Nowadays, he said, it takes more to attract a mate than merely putting on displays and singing loudly and he wanted to set himself apart from his rivals.

We tried a number of different poses in an effort to give him an artsy, mysterious look that would simultaneously suggest vulnerability and passion. We even tried a full-body portrait, because he knows that some of the lady cardinals are interested in more than just his handsome face.

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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I don’t know if this male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) qualifies as an “angry bird,” but he sure did not seem happy to see me this morning at Huntley Meadows Park.

Maybe he was cold and hungry or got off on the wrong side of the bed this morning. In any case, I couldn’t coax a smile out of him.

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It has been cloudy and rainy almost all of today and I feel a need for some bright colors. Here’s a shot from last December of a male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) decked out in Christmas red.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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When you don’t have a bird in the hand, sometimes you just have to make do with a bird in the bush.

Despite their bright color, male Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) are surprisingly hard to photograph. They like to dive into the deepest part of the bushes and forage there most of the time. Sometimes it sounds like they are taunting me.

This cardinal showed his face in the for a moment and I was able to get a mostly unobstructed shot of this beautiful bird, whose bright red color always reminds me of Christmas.

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Many colorful birds leave us in the winter or have a more muted plumage, but the Northern Cardinal retains its bright, bold color and remains in our area throughout the entire year. I am always happy to spot a cardinal and the snowy white background really helps to showcase this male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) that I spotted yesterday at Huntley Meadows Park, the local marshland where I take many of my wildlife and nature photos.

On a cold, windy day, the cardinal was busily extracting seeds from what I think are rose hips of the Swamp Roses (Rosa palustris) that grow in the wet areas of the park.

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I have been told that rose hips are an excellent source of Vitamin C. They don’t seem to be the favorite food of the birds in my local marsh, however,  and there are lots of the rose hips still around in mid-February. Northern Cardinals, though, will sometimes smash them against the railing of the boardwalk in order to get to the seeds inside, leaving behind a trail of discarded outer skins.

This past weekend, I watched a male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) patiently extract the seeds from a small pile of rose hips. There were plenty more available, but he seemed content to snack on only a few of them—maybe their taste is too strong or acidic to consume a large quantity of them.

I believe that these rose hips are from Swamp Roses (Rosa palustris), which covered parts of the marsh during the summer and were amazingly fragrant.

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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During these gray days of winter, bright colors are hard to find, so I jumped at the chance to photograph this male Northern Cardinal when I spotted him Monday high in a tree at Huntley Meadows Park, the local marshland where I take many of my nature photos.

For another burst of color, check out today’s posting “Winter Blues…” by fellow photographer and blogger, Walter Sanford, with gorgeous images of Painted Skimmer dragonflies that he photographed last June at the same park.

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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I posted this image once already, but its bright Christmas colors cry out to be used again this morning.

Merry Christmas to friends and family and best wishes for a blessed New Year.

Thanks for all of your support and encouragement this past year as I have continued my journey through photography.

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Do you prefer the bold color of the iconic male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) to the more subtle coloration of the female cardinal or are you on the fence?

Yes, I am beginning today’s posting with the same question that I used in yesterday’s posting that featured a fierce-looking female cardinal, but today am featuring a male cardinal. Not far from where yesterday’s female was perched on the fence wire, her male partner was calmly sitting on a green fencepost, seemingly surveying his surroundings.

Some of yesterday’s responses suggested that many viewers prefer the bright red color of the male cardinal, a visible and welcome sight at this time of the year, when the landscape seems to be dominated by shades of gray.

The combination of the red cardinal and the green fencepost give this image a definite feeling of Christmas. Somehow I feel like it would be good to emulate this cardinal during this pre-holiday season and stop all our frantic activity for a moment, take a deep breath, and look and listen, remembering the true meaning of Christmas.

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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In the early morning mist yesterday at my local marshland park, the bright red color of this male Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) was even more distinctive than usual, shining like a beacon in the limited light.

The white-colored sky and the shadowy shapes of the trees in the distance provide a simple backdrop for this first image that gives it a lot of atmosphere. The wet, lichen-encrusted branch helps to tie the cardinal back to nature and keep this from looking too much like a studio shot, though it does look like the cardinal was posing for me.

When the cardinal moved to a different perch, the backdrop changed and the white sky was replaced by the dried-out vegetation of a field of cattails. Fortunately, the vegetation was far enough away from the subject that it softened up with the aperture wide open. In the second image, the cardinal seems to have become a little irritated with me and is scowling a bit. In both shots, the cardinal looks to have fluffed up its feathers, an indication that it was cold outside when I took these shots.

Northern CardinalNorthern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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